Friday, September 2, 2011

Improve Your English Quickly and Easily!

Suggestions for Using the Podcasts

1 Listen to the podcast without reading the text.
2 Listen to the podcast for a second time and quickly write a few notes about what you hear.
3 Read the text with the podcast as you listen for the third time.
4 Read aloud with the podcast.
5 Try to explain what you have heard in your own words. 

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Catching a Movie


It was late on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  Ali felt bored.  He didn’t feel like cleaning up even though his apartment could use a good cleaning.  He didn’t feel like going out for a walk.  He didn’t want to get his shoes wet.  He wanted to play soccer but his game had been called off because of the heavy rain and lightning.  He had surfed the net and played some video games but he lost interest after a while.  He picked up the newspaper on the coffee table and started flipping through it.  Then he had an idea.  He picked up his cell phone and called his friend, Amy.  “Hi, Amy.  It’s Ali,” he said when she answered. “What are you up to tonight?”  “Oh, hi, Ali. Nothing so far,” she replied.  “What have you got in mind?”  “I was thinking of taking in a movie downtown,” said Ali.  “Yeah,” answered Amy.  “I’m up for that.  What do you want to see?”  “How about that film with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts,” suggested Ali. “It’s based on a true story about a CIA agent whose identity is revealed to the public. I think it’s called Fair Game.  I hear it’s pretty good.”“It was good,” said Amy, ”I saw it last week.  You should see it but not tonight. Have you seen Bridesmaids? ” “No, I haven’t seen it yet. It sounds like a chick flick but I did hear that it was really funny.  I was thinking about the new superhero movie about Thor,” suggested Ali.  “Either film would be fine with me,” replied Amy. “Why don’t we see how long the line-ups are and decide when we get there? Are they both playing at the Imperial tonight?”  “Yes, they are,”said Ali “I just checked the newspaper. Do you want to go for a quick bite before we see the movie?” “Sure,” said Amy. “Let’s leave around six so we can eat, walk to the cinema and catch the late show.”  Canadians are movie-goers.  In other words, they love to go to the movies.  In fact, Toronto is home to one of the biggest film festivals in the world.  We call a person who watches a lot of movies, a movie buff.  People still go to movie theatres to see films even though they could watch the movies at home on their televisions or computers.  Today you can even watch movies in your car or on your cell phone.  However, I think you need to have superpowers to watch a movie on a cell phone or ipod.  It’s interesting that people still go to watch movies in the theatre when they have so many options.  I like to see movies on the big screen if the movie has special effects or beautiful visual scenes. And sitting in a movie theatre is an enjoyable way to spend a rainy evening whether you’re battling evil with Thor, or laughing at the comedic antics of a group of Bridesmaids.     

Friday, May 27, 2011



Vasi walked into the kitchen just as his mom was hanging up the phone.  "Was that Aunt Sonya you were talking to Mom?" he asked.  She nodded, "Yes, it was.  She and the kids are in Athabasca.  It's no picnic but at least they're safe."  "That's a relief," said Vasi putting his arm around his mom's shoulders.  "I know you couldn't relax until you knew they were all miles away from the fires."  His mom smiled for the first time in days. "I know Vasi,  But the fires are spreading so fast because of the winds that I couldn't stop worrying.  I was afraid they wouldn't get away in time.  But they were evacuated to Athabasca the other night and now they are living in a recreation centre there until things settle down."  "That must be weird," said Vasi.  "When can they go back home?"  "I'm not sure," his mom replied.  "They haven't been allowing people to go home because the town is in pretty bad shape even though they are getting the fires under control.  In some areas there is no electricity or water.  And some people will have no home to go home to anyway."  "I know," said "Vasi sadly.  "I heard that about a third of the buildings in Slave Lake have been destroyed.  That will leave a lot of people homeless."  Warm, dry weather and high winds have caused wildfires to burn out of control in the town of Slave Lake.  Slave Lake is a town of about 7,000 people in northern Alberta.  Alberta is one of the prairie provinces in western Canada.  While the wildfires raged the strong winds and smoke made it difficult for the pilots to fly water bombers into the area.  Hundreds of people were evacuated to nearby communities until the danger was over.  All kinds of makeshift arrangements were made to accommodate hundreds of people who had to leave their homes so suddenly.  Some are living with friends and family.  Others are living in temporary shelters like the sports complex in Athabasca and others are living in campers or even their cars.  And 200 firefighters were flown from the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario to help put out the fires.  And even when it is safe to return to Slave Lake many unfortunate people will not have homes to return to.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Long Weekend


"Hi Marta," Ali greeted his neighbour as he stood at the trunk of his car unloading groceries.  Marta had just finished cutting her lawn and was pushing her lawn mower along the driveway to put it away in the shed.  "Oh, hi Ali," replied Marta.  "How's it going?  Got any big plans for the long weekend?  Are you going camping again this year?"  Ali shook his head, "No way!  We had such lousy weather last year that we decided not to spend this holiday weekend wet and shivering in our tents.  I love having a long weekend but that weekend was way too long."  "Oh, that's right!," said Marta.  "You got rained out last year."  "Yeah," said Ali.  "It was a bust.  So this year we're going to a cottage on Silver Lake near Owen Sound instead.  I rented it for the weekend from a guy I know at work.  So even if it rains, we'll be warm and dry.  How about you?  What are you up to this weekend?"  "We've decided to spend May 24th at home this year.  We're having a big barbecue on Sunday and we'll go to the fireworks display at the park on Monday night.  I'm just as happy being a homebody instead of traveling.  The roads are so busy.  I'd rather just relax at home," said Marta.  "That's why we'll be up and away at the crack of dawn," said Ali. "Hopefully we can beat the crowds."  The May 24th weekend is the first holiday weekend of the summer in Canada.  It falls on the weekend closest to Victoria Day which is May 24th. And it is named for Queen Victoria's birthday and because Canada is one of the Commonwealth countries we have the same kings and queens as Britain.  But most people don't think about that.  Instead they think about enjoying summer weather again and doing things that they can't do during the winter.  They head to cottages and campgrounds and beaches and parks to enjoy the great outdoors.  And even people who stay home celebrate with barbecues and picnics and community fireworks displays.  And most people wait until the May 24th weekend to plant their gardens because then the risk of frost has finally passed.